After starting on a serious note by showcasing the complexities introduced by the infiltration of the shapeshifting alien Skrulls into human society, the second episode of Disney+’s latest release, Secret Invasion, dials it down a bit to showcase the implications of the invasion in its true sense. In the previous episode, we saw that as a result of consecutive terrorist attacks conducted by a rebel sect of Skrull led by the renegade Gravik, Nick Fury was forced to return to Earth from his aerospace defense mission in space.
Fury learned from his friend, former Skrull leader Talos, and agent Maria Hill that the rebels have created and are using the organization ‘A.A.R.’ (Americans Against Russia) as a front and are planning a bombing of Moscow, which could spark a vicious war between two nations. Talos’ estranged daughter, G’iah, has defected to Gravik’s side and taken shelter in Gravik’s new Skrull colony in Russia, New Skrullos, where secretly, the rebels are impersonating humans, both their bodies and minds. We also meet Fury’s MI6 associate, Sonya Falsworth, who, along with Agent Hill, shares the same sentiment: that Fury has gotten too old to carry on with this charade. Their assumption turns out to be true when Fury fails to stop the bombing at Vossoyedineniye Square triggered by Gravik, who also shoots Agent Hill to death. In this episode, the plot meanders through more political conspiracies the Skrulls are involved in, and in doing so, some shocking revelations are made.
A Look Back In The Past: Who Is Gravik?
The episode takes viewers back to the timeline of Captain Marvel in 1995, when a young Nick Fury was fresh off becoming an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. The impact of the ongoing Kree-Skrull war was felt on Earth when Human-Kree hybrid Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, came to the planet following the shapeshifting alien Skrulls, some of whom had taken refuge on Earth. Her perspective of the war changed after learning that the Kree were the aggressors all along while the Skrulls were displaced after the destruction of their home planet, Skrullos. Together with her, Nick Fury befriended the Skrull leader, Talos. Later, Carol and Fury promised to find the refugee Skrulls a new home in the form of a planet.
Two years later, at Brixton, England, a Skrull associate, Varra, introduced Nick Fury to a Skrull teenager, Gravik. It was a time when S.H.I.E.L.D. was actively using the Skrulls in the most covert operations for the state using their shapeshifting powers, and Gravik was introduced as a soldier in the ranks. From the conversation between Fury and Varra, we get to know that Gravik is a survivor of the Kree-Skrull war, and both his parents died in battle. Initially hesitant to trust humans, Gravik and other Skrulls trusted Talos’ faith in Fury and joined the cause of the humans.
The scene jumps forward to the present-day timeline, right after the bombing in Moscow, and as per their plan, rebel Skrulls have planted their agent posing as an American as the perpetrator in question, who gets arrested by the authorities. On the other hand, Talos escorts Fury out of the chaos and they head to a safer location in Warsaw by train. En route, Fury questions Talos about situations he hasn’t been informed of and gets to know that, without his knowledge, Talos’ signal brought in millions of Skrulls, who have been living among humans ever since, unnoticed. While Fury gets baffled and takes out his frustration on Talos for this supposed invasion, the latter states that Fury’s negligence to the Skrull affair while being occupied with matters related to the Avenger and Infinity War has led to this. Talos also blames Fury for using the Skrulls as S.H.I.E.L.D. pleases while barely administering to their plight and states that he considers this supposed invasion a medium of coexistence between humans and Skrulls.
Gravik’s motivations are clarified through the first half of the episode, as he, too, was used as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secretive weapon. With the leaders he put his faith in, Talos and Fury, not upholding their promises made to his people, he went through a loss of faith and turned bitter.
The Aftermath Of The Bombing: How Invasive Is The Skrull Infiltration?
The world is in uproar in unison immediately after the Moscow bombing; with all the arrows pointed towards the U.S.A., even their allied countries have started supporting Russia. At Moscow, Gravik and G’iah head towards the Skrull Council to discuss the situation, and G’iah is kept outside to wait while Gravik enters the council chambers.
It is revealed that the members of the Skrull Council are, in fact, posing as some of the most important world leaders; some of them are U.K. Prime Minister Pamela Lawton and General Secretary of NATO Sergio Caspani. Gravik proposes waging an all-out war among nations, as he doesn’t see humans as fit to be the dominant species on the planet and wants to take it for the Skrulls. Another world leader impersonating Skrull, Shirley, and NATO chief Sergio oppose the idea as the inclination to warfare was part of the reason the Skrulls became refugees in the first place, but with the support of the Skrull PM of the UK, Pamela, Gravik’s opinion is adapted as a command, and he is promoted to be the general of the council. Gravik also states that he has conceptualized a defense against even the Avengers, and Shirley secretly informs Talos of this significant development, who asks her to arrange a meeting with Gravik in public.
Gravik returns to New Skrullos with G’iah and is met with much adulation for the success of their mission. However, G’iah decides to spy on Gravik’s secret mission, which involves something called ‘Harvest,’ and gets to know that a certain Dr. Rosa Dalton is associated with assembling various key components. The components include Groot, Frost Beast, Extremis, and Cull Obsidian’s bodily samples.
In comics, the Secret Invasion storyline was significant for the way the intrigue was built through doppelganger versions of known superheroes, impersonated by Skrulls, gaining control over major sectors, creating a scenario where identities became meaningless. In the MCU, despite having all the creative control and coherent worldbuilding, a more grounded espionage adaptation is chosen as the replacement for the superheroic version, which in some cases, offers a more direct allusion. But bringing in the factor of world leaders being imposters themselves contributes little to nothing, given how ineffectual Skrulls have been in the MCU so far, which we hope changes after the end of this series.
What Did Sonya Falsworth Learn From Being Captured?
Meanwhile, Fury’s former associate, MI6 officer Sonya Falsworth, goes to a secret K.G.B. hideout where the planted Skrull perpetrator posing as an A.A.R. member, Brogan, is being tortured and takes the lead herself to extract information. After confirming his identity as a Skrull, Sonya also learns that their leader, Gravik, is using Dr. Dalton to formulate a method of making the Skrulls stronger. Her interrogation is cut short when, informed by his insiders, Gravik reaches the hideout and slaughters the K.G.B. agents outside, and Sonya somehow escapes undetected. Gravik rescues Brogan, only to suspect him of betrayal and later eliminate him.
The infiltration network of Skrulls has allowed them to gather D.N.A. samples of various strong extra-terrestrial beings like Groot from Guardians, Frost Beasts of the Thor mythos, Cull Obsidian of Thanos’ Black Order, and Terran ones like Extremis from A.I.M. Dr. Dalton is creating a device to synthesize a Super Skrull using these samples, a being who can wield all these unique abilities at once. In comics, Super-Skrull mimics the various powers of the Fantastic Four, and although the MCU version is going to be different origin-wise, it will somewhat match the versatility.
What Is Nick Fury’s Most Intimate Secret?
Fury goes to England and meets with Elizabeth Hill, Agent Maria’s grieving mother, who blames Fury for the death of her daughter. However, before taking her leave, she reminds Fury not to let Maria’s death go in vain.
In London, Colonel James Rhodes, aka War Machine, gets hounded by questions from the world’s leaders in the aftermath of the attack as he represents the American President Ritson, but manages to hold his own. Later, as Fury asks him to arrange a private meeting, the duo briefly catches up, and soon the discussion turns to the Skrull situation. Fury shares everything he knows with Rhodes, who reveals that he has, in fact, come to see him only to get him arrested. There is a nice moment during this conversation where Fury reminds Rhodes how people of their color never got power handed out in silver platter handed out in this country, unlike those who profiteered by ancestral acquisitions; therefore, it is their duty to serve with heart and not be a machinery of the institutions. Rhodes replies that being among the toilers exactly means that his duty is to use the power to be uncompromising, even if it means stating that Fury, the man who has been his role model all his life, is fired. In a roundabout way, Rhodes also blames Fury for Maria Hill’s fate and the simmering political turmoil that could result in a third World War. Fury takes his leave, but not before dislocating the arm of Rhodes’ security, who attempted to arrest him.
As the episode ends, we follow Fury as he enters a home where the Skrull operative, Varra, is busy with her daily chores. She appears in her human form as Fury arrives, and it is revealed that they have been married—although it is not revealed for how long, but presumably long before Fury became the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. The episode ends with the couple sharing a loving kiss as “Try A Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding plays in the background.
The surprise reveal at the end of the second episode gave a new dynamic to the human-Skrull relationship in the MCU and made Fury kind of a hypocrite due to the fact that he previously berated Talos for mentioning the proposition of both species’ coexistence. After all, Fury’s own family being a Skrull can be the first major step toward that prospect, and it is likely that the series will explore the relationship between these two species through the familial aspect. Gravik’s entire shtick seems to be an allusion to the U.S.A.’s foreign policy in real life. Creating an unsalvageable situation by themselves, using expandable forces outside their vicinity to do their dirty work, and crying foul when the blade they had created cut them deep. However, at times the treatment of the important themes turns out to be too blunt, which we guess won’t be the case given how much is going to change in the MCU’s political atmosphere between Secret Invasion and Thunderbolts.